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International Postgraduate Students and their Perceptions of the Effectiveness and Value of Personal and Professional Development Modules

  • School: Nottingham Business School
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Self-funded


Nottingham Business School (NBS) at Nottingham Trent University has worked hard to develop a personalised student experience, that aims to create opportunities across four axes of learning—Knowledge, Experiential Learning, Learning Styles and Career Development. All students at NBS participate in core modules that focus on personal and professional development, whilst also getting to choose from a variety of extra-curricular activities and events to support their development.

The NBS postgraduate students are a diverse group, with different levels of academic knowledge in their chosen area of study, different cultural and educational backgrounds and varying levels of personal and professional skills necessary to succeed at postgraduate level education in the UK (O'Donnell, Tobbell, Lawthom & Zammit, 2009). Therefore, for some, studying at the postgraduate level can be a significant leap. To support students, NBS offers all students an Academic Mentor who is able to offer support to the students on a range of topics. Having tailored academic support available to the students can make a huge difference to their retention and attainment. Alongside this, all students participate in a 10 credit core module. The aim of the module is to give postgraduate students an increased understanding of how to manage their own continuous personal and professional development in order to enhance their business acumen and success. Personal and professional development in this context involves providing students with academic tools and experiential opportunities to expand their horizons and challenge their actions, attitudes and behaviours.

The aim of this PhD project would be to support academic staff tasked with the development of postgraduate personal and professional development- both inside and outside of the formal classroom environment. We wish to understand the effectiveness of current taught modules that focus solely on postgraduate student CPD. We wish to understand how our international cohorts perceive the effectiveness and value of these modules. We wish to analyse and evaluate the type of developments made by students who undertake these modules. For example, do these modules positively correlate with an improvement in student employability and academic performance? Do these type of modules translate to the different cultural traditions that our students come from? Are they therefore applicable, are they sensitive to the different cultural needs of students from a range of cultural backgrounds? The study could take either a qualitative or a quantitative approach. Moreover, candidates wishing to engage in a project of this nature will have access to a relevant research sample, supported by senior academics, with ethical approval from the Schools ethics committee.


Baker, K. L., Perkins, J., & Darren, P. M. (2014). International Students and their Personal Development Planning. Active Learning in Higher Education, 15(2), 129-143.

Hall, G., & Wai-Ching Sing, T. (2009). Mind the Gap? A case-study of the differing perceptions of international students and their lecturers on postgraduate business programmes. International Journal of Management Education, 8(1), 53-62.

Jackson, N., & Ward, R. (2004). A fresh perspective on progress files- a way of representing complex learning and achievement in higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 29(4), 423-449.

Monks, K., Conway, E., & Ni Dhuigneain, M. (2006). Integrating personal development and career planning. Active Learning in Higher Education, 7(1), 73-86.


Dr Claudia M. Bordogna

Entry qualifications

An applicant for admission to read for a PhD should normally hold a first or upper second class honours degree of a UK university or an equivalent qualification, or a lower second class honours degree with a Master's degree at Merit level of a UK university or an equivalent qualification.

International students will also need to meet the English language requirements - IELTS 6.5 (with minimum sub-scores of 6.0). Applicants who have taken a higher degree at a UK university are normally exempt from the English language requirements. A research proposal (between 1,000 and a maximum of 2,000 words) must be submitted as part of the application.

For more information please visit the NTU Doctoral School – Research Degrees webpages.

How to apply

Applications are accepted all year round.

For a step-by-step guide and to make an application, please visit our how to apply page.

Fees and funding

This is a self-funded PhD opportunity.

Guidance and support

Find out about guidance and support for PhD students.

Still need help?

Claudia M. Bordogna